I did not get to sleep very much last night. I was worrying about my voice so much and for some reason couldn’t sleep. I’m putting it down to some mild form of altitude sickness, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself to help me through. I got to the hotel thinking that a shower would perk me up but there were no rooms at the inn until 4 o’clock in the afternoon. No problem, I’m going to be sweating my way up a mountain in about 3 hours time. So I turn back to the tour bus and bump into a guy named John who’s looking for the start of the hike. We talk about him seeing the younger Mike Peters with The Alarm opening for U2 in Tampa in 1983.
It’s slightly surreal, being surrounded by the Rockies and talking about gigs from 30 years ago. John takes off to find a parking lot. I then bump into some more Alarm fans, Becky and Kelly, who have both been to Wales for The Gathering. Kelly’s partner Mitch is a massive Alarm fan, but could not be with us because he was undergoing chemo. We send him a photo message, saying wish you were here! They are also with Lydia Franklin, who has flown in from the UK and is an LHS super volunteer. When I say ‘Super Volunteer’, I mean ‘SUPER RIDING ROUTE 66 ON A BICYCLE FOR LOVE HOPE STRENGTH VOLUNTEER’. These three marvelous creatures knew where the hot drinks were being served, so we went to the only coffee shop open at the time.
On the way there, I realized that my voice and lack of sleep were nothing to worry about, and the adrenalin started kicking in. I decided to make the most of the day. Sleep can wait, a shower can wait, but at least I know I won’t be singing alone! It’s a reunion of sorts, there are people like Dan Sullivan from Dallas (who I met at Everest Rocks 2007), and has had to deal with a cancer that keeps coming back. I got to meet the entire James Chippendale (co founder of LHS, and a man I owe my life too), family. James Chippendale’s mum is climbing today, after also having recently taken a round of chemo. Judi will be our inspiration on the mountain.
After the speeches, I sang a low down version of ‘Strength’, this is the song that the charity is named after. I’ve sang this song in front of 70,000 people before, but that was nowhere as scary as it was on this mountainside. Every body was staring back at me, in the brilliant sunshine. I was so glad when the first words came out, and the mellow nature of this version of the song, seemed to strike the right chord between myself and the listeners.
“Who will be the lifeblood coursing through my veins”, I sang.
These people before me, are the lifeblood of our society. Willing to do something extraordinary to help others some whom they may never get to know or meet. It’s a humbling experience. On the way to the top, I got everyone to sign my guitar. An instinctive act that I thought about on the way in the tour bus. It was only something simple, a white correction pen on black guitar, but seemed to mean so much to people who not only wrote their own names, but the names of the loved ones they were ‘fighting’ for, or remembering in their own way, by climbing in ‘their’ name. There were some beautiful eulogies. Along the way, we were treated to some award winning ‘blowing in the wind’ type of performances from: Miles Zuniga- of Fastball, and Cy Curnin- of The Fixx.
At the summit Shannon Henn’s speech was interrupted by Alvero- from Austin (LHS Super Volunteer), who got engaged to a girl that he met at Vail 2012. It was a beautiful thing. Brett Dennan sang, with that will o’the wisp voice of his, and the beauty of the elevation was united with the soul of his music. After a communal singing of ‘Love Hope and Strength’ by all concerned, we rode the Gondola back to the town and readied ourselves for the evening show (I even managed to get a shower!). The show at night was in such a great setting right in the heart of the town of Vail, the local people came out on force, and everyone was so helpful and happy to have us there.
On the main stage we were joined by Jeff Brinkman and Brien McVernon (Australia), and The School Of Rock band, who backed everyone up who performed on the mountain. I came out with Big Country for the finale, and brought everyone on stage for the closing song. It was, as it should be, with everyone who started the day there for the end. The sun came down and the drinks came out. I got on the tour bus and slept all the way to Durango.
Love Hope Strength Video Trailer See the video here
Mike Peters appears at House of Commons for Marrow Drive to Celebrate Parliament Increasing Eligibility Requirements of Donors in the UK from 17-30 to 17-55 years of age BBC News